Sometimes the word “sustainable” can feel a bit overwhelming to gift-wrap your head around. Most wrapping paper is not recyclable. Sure it's paper, but once it's manufactured and printed on, it does not qualify to be recycled. So, what other ways can you wrap gifts? This holiday season, don’t let yourself lose sight of the larger impact you can make with small and intentional choices with regard to gift wrapping. Rather than just going with what’s convenient and easily accessible, challenge yourself to think outside of the box and get creative with your gift wrapping. In addition, try not to use plastic tape and instead tie wrapping paper in place with twine or cotton ribbon.
Although you might be in search of ready-to-ship Christmas Gift Boxes to cut down on your shopping time, it is likely that you will be wrapping at least a few of your own gifts. One way to live more sustainably is to recycle and reuse items around your house you might regularly throw out. Keep reading to find creative and sustainable ways to gift wrap by combining some of those overlooked household items with companies who are doing the hard work and making sustainable gift wrapping solutions for you.
5 Household Items You Can Reuse for Sustainable Gift Wrapping
1. Glass Jars or Cans of Various Sizes
Think mason jars, jam or jelly jars, pickles, pasta sauces, canned corn, etc. Don’t immediately write these off as unacceptable vessels for giving your gifts this holiday season. Remember, we’re trying to be creative and sustainable at the same time.
Obviously, if you have a large bicycle to give your grandchild, it’s not going to fit inside a pickle jar. But, it’s quite possible you are giving smaller items, things like jewelry, consumable food or candy, money, gift cards, small clothing items… the list goes on. Consider skipping the usual wrapping paper and putting your gift inside one of these recently used items instead.
This doesn’t mean you can’t upgrade your glass jar with paint, a beautiful ribbon, or even a sprig from a pine tree. Take your traditional view of festiveness and turn it on it’s head by releasing your creativity and making your gifts reflect who you are as a gift giver and thoughtful gift wrapper.
2. Clothes, Towels, and Bedding, Oh My!
Hopefully it goes without saying that with this category there are obvious limits with regard to cleanliness and courtesy. But maybe there is an old flannel top sheet no one ever used that you can repurpose to wrap a gift or cut up to create a beautiful bow.
Maybe a pillow case that no longer fits your style can line the bottom of a gift basket. Use part of a green kitchen tea towel instead of tissue paper to pop out of the top of a gift bag. Or, if a new kitchen towel is part of someone’s gift, wrap their gift with the towel itself!
Try not to limit yourself here, but take a look around and see what sticks out and brings you shareable joy you can give through your gifts this year. Check out this blog post on Japanese Furoshiki and sustainable gift wrapping to take it up a notch further.
3. Old Dishes and Household Treasures
If your mind has immediately wandered trying to wrap a present stuck between two old bowls, maybe reel it back a tiny bit. You could take a well-loved bowl or teacup and convert it into a unique plant pot. Maybe your child has a quirky toy they no longer use tucked in their toy box that might make the perfect holder for your gift. Think about giving that new set of tools you purchased in the bed of an old yellow dump truck toy! How cute would that be?! For something a bit more simple, consider taking the base of an old jewelry box and using it as your gift box for several presents.
If you have a bit of time on your hands and you want to be extra crafty, you could take broken or scratched up dishes and actually break them down into smaller pieces to use as DIY mosaic coasters. Keep your options open (and your trash bags closed) so that you can reuse some items you thought would just be thrown away this season.
4. Paper Products and Cardboard
Think less toilet paper and more paper bags for this one. Some grocery stores exclusively use paper bags that are thick and durable; when turned inside out they make perfect wrapping paper. You can draw or paint on the brown paper bags to give them some pizazz.
Maybe you have some books you no longer plan to read; you can use the pages to wrap your gifts or even cut a large hole out the pages and use the book itself as a surprise gift box. Certain calendars with images you love can be used as wrapping paper as well. Even a paper towel roll can be reused to keep a poster or art print safe under the tree.
If you have children, give them a part to play and have them create holiday-themed gift wrap on paper you already have in your house. The grandparents will especially appreciate this personal touch! You could even print your kids’ paintings on butcher paper and use that as your main wrapping paper.
A favorite idea of ours is to print our own paper with water based inks. This can be done by creating stamps with sponges or potatoes, or by using an at home screen printing kit.
Reuse old cardboard boxes and dress them up with flecks of white paint and then add a sprig of greenery to bring it to life.
5. Plastic Containers and Baskets
It seems as though wicker baskets are less common in households these days but you might be one of those people who have a collection from years ago or acquired them from a grandparent over the years. Or, you might be one of those people who has never seen a plastic container or bin they didn’t like and could spare one or two or ten to use as gift baskets instead of purchasing a gift box. That special and personal touch of home might be just the thing your gift wrap was missing.
If you don’t have baskets to spare, go thrift shopping or hit up some local vintage stores where you’re bound to find something special.
Ready for more gifting content?
Where to Buy Recyclable Wrapping Paper and Reusable Gift Bags
Before we share with you a few resources for purchasing some of the best environmentally-friendly and sustainable gift wrapping options, it’s always important to us that we encourage you to shop local, wherever you may be and whenever you have the opportunity. It is highly likely that your town (yes, even your really small one out in the woods), has a local shop doing their part to source or maybe even create recycled wrapping paper and reusable gift bags. Ask your community if they have any good shops to recommend or stop by one shop you’ve seen around the city and ask what sustainable options they might have. If they don't have any, you can take the opportunity to share that you would love to support them next year if they provide options.
With reusable gift bags being a rising trend, it is very likely that your neighborhood grocery store or chain store will be selling some incredible options for you, so keep your eyes peeled for them on your next shopping trip. You could also reuse old cotton totes since we all have so many of them now. Or, make your own tote for everyone from a burlap bag!
If you have the time to peruse the pages and pages of small shop owners selling reusable gift bags, take the time to find a style and aesthetic you love, read reviews, and maybe even get free shipping! For those of you who love a neatly wrapped gift with perfectly folded gift corners, Wrappily has taken on the task of transforming printed newspaper into beautifully patterned, double sided wrapping paper. It’s mind-boggling to see what they have been able to do, and you can do your part by choosing this kind of wrapping paper. If you have found the perfect reusable bags or old furniture-turned gift basket but are still needing tissue paper, consider purchasing this 100% recycled tissue paper.
Christmas Gift Wrapping to Make Father Christmas and Mother Nature Happy
Bringing together a love for gift-giving and the holidays with a deep love and care for the environment is possible and becoming easier to achieve each year. It’s possible the message resonates with you but the time you have to make it a reality this year is little to none. If you are still in need of gifts for this year that require very little of your time and effort but care about where your products come from, Bestowe Gifting has gift sets such as this Food Lover Deluxe gift box ready to go. Every item and artisan was chosen with sustainability in mind so you can rest easy knowing you are still doing your part this season.
Prioritize Sustainable Gift Wrapping This Holiday Season
Choosing sustainability for how you approach the holidays can take shape in many unique and unexpected ways. If this is your first time considering this as part of your gift-giving and wrapping, choose one or two aspects you want to try this year and keep adding a new level or aspect as the next year unfolds.
Maybe you are already a minimalist and have no household items around to use right now. Then purchase bags or wrapping paper with a conscience and keep your eyes open throughout the year for items you can save and use next Christmas. Even the small choices you make towards sustainability right now will have an impact on the years to come.
With a change in your mindset, gift wrapping can be just as fun as gift shopping. Just think of all the adorable and unique gifts you get to proudly place under the tree or in the mail this year!